It's Thanksgiving! A day to be thankful for all the great things we've been blessed with (or just another rainy Thursday in November if you're not in the US, but stick with me here). So we here at TechRadar thought it would be the perfect opportunity to round up five free programs we're truly thankful for.
These are some of our favourite apps, the best free software we reckon is available today. They've enriched our lives, made work easier and saved us when we thought all hope was lost. So today, after you've gorged yourself on turkey and pumpkin pie, spare a minute or two to say thanks for these brilliant programs.
Got a favourite that we haven't mentioned? Tell us about it in the comments below.
Who needs Photoshop? Seriously, when you start using GIMP you won't need any other image editor. It may be free, but the guys and gals behind this superb piece of kit have spared no expenses in making it as powerful as possible. With layers, scripts, advanced manipulation tools, tons of brushes and a whole heap more, GIMP gives you more goodies than Santa on a particularly good day (hold on there, still a month to go...).
The high king of free software, GIMP proves that you don't need to spend big to get huge results. With enough firepower to put paid alternatives to shame, getting this much for free feels almost...wrong. But it's so, so right – GIMP is open source and developed by volunteers dedicated to keeping it as free and as awesome as possible, and if that's not something to praise, we don't know what is.
If there's ever software to be thankful for, it's recovery software, and Recuva is one of the best in its class. It's an absolute life saver for anyone who has emptied the recycle bin, only to realise there was something important lurking in there. Similarly, it can recover damaged, corrupted or even unsaved data, providing a lifeline just when you thought your precious files were gone for all eternity.
And if that wasn't enough to prompt tears of joy, it's free! Yes, all the heartache of accidentally deleting your marriage photos banished forever, and not a penny spent to do it. No matter whether you deliberately deleted the files and then changed your mind, or if you were blighted by a catastrophic computer crash, Recuva should be your first port of call when it comes to bringing your files back from the dead.
avast! Free Antivirus
When it comes to something as important as keeping your computer safe and secure, you want to know you're getting the best that money can buy. Except in this case, because with avast! Free Antivirus, you get all the essential protection you need without having to pay a penny. With a robust antivirus and anti-malware scan, home network checking and a useful browser cleanup tool, the free version has all you need to stay safe from online nasties.
And if you do decide you upgrade, avast! offers you a ton of useful features to keep the worst the internet has to offer at bay. From blocking out spam and phishing sites to running a silent firewall and protecting your online banking, upgrading is perfect if you're looking for all-round internet protection from one of the most trusted names in the biz.
No roundup like this would be complete without mentioning LibreOffice, an office productivity suite that proves that the best things in life really are free. Borne of the OpenOffice project, LibreOffice contains a range of programs that anyone familiar with Microsoft Office will recognise; from word processors to spreadsheets to databases, they're all in here, full of features and ready to solve your office woes.
Everything is laid out in a similar way to its Microsoft cousin, so there's no steep learning curve to negotiate, while LibreOffice can read Microsoft file types and save to them too, so there are no compatibility issues to fret over either. With extra apps like a database creator and a drawing suite, LibreOffice goes where office software fears to tread – and emerges unscathed and with its head held high.
There was a time when free calls were a hacker's fantasy. Nowadays, they're a solid reality, thanks in no small part to Skype. This fantastic program connects users to each other over the internet, allowing people to make free calls to anywhere in the world, provided the recipient is also using Skype. For those times when you need to call a landline, Skype also offers reasonable rates as part of a dedicated call package.
Install it on your phone and call another Skype user and you won't have to worry about eating into your contracted minutes either (though you will use up data). You can use it to make conference calls, stay in touch with long distance friends or use it as an instant messenger. It's bringing people a little closer together for free, and surely that's something to be thankful for.
So that's it, five great free programs to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. Got one you want to share? Let us know in the comments.
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